Hello folks, how are you today? I write at the end of a very busy week at work, culminating in a swab test, required because four members of staff on my ward being struck down with the dreaded C- word - that swab up my nostril was an unpleasant experience, but hey! a small price to pay for keeping everyone safe!
This is the week when President Biden and Vice President Harris were sworn in and the world heaved a sigh of relief. No one more so than Dr Fauci, the Chief Medical Advisor who reportedly has turned into Dobby the house elf, grinning from ear to ear, looking ten years younger as he prepares to serve under a sensible, scientific regime. I have a number of very dear friends and classmates in the US, working very close to the frontline and I feared for them - soon, that anxiety should finally be a thing of the past.
Go Big or Go Home
I watched the goings on in Washington along with the rest of the world and a picture of Lady Gaga wearing a huge dove of peace brooch and singing her heart out struck me - no longer are lovers of visible jewellery (by that I mean 'big') going to be apologetic - way to go, Gaga! Big and visible - that's the only way forward!
La Fenice - The Phoenix
In ancient Egyptian, and later Greek and Roman mythology, a phoenix is a long-lived bird that cyclically regenerates or is otherwise born again. Associated with the sun, a phoenix obtains new life by arising from the ashes of its predecessor. Some legends say it dies in a show of flames and combustion, others that it simply dies and decomposes before being born again.
La Fenice - or The Phoenix is one of the most famous and renowned landmarks in the history of Italian theatre - it was built first in 1774 after the city's leading house was destroyed and rebuilt, but not opened until 1792; the second fire came in 1836, and rebuilding was completed within a year. The third fire was the result of arson. It destroyed the opera house in 1996 leaving only the exterior walls, and was rebuilt and re-opened in November 2004.
I am not an opera buff but when in Venice, one has to go to it's most famous (and resilient) building, and I'm so glad I did. The beautiful colours of the interior stayed imprinted on my brain and I reproduced the maroons and gold of the beautiful swags and upholstery as well as the bright colours of the ceiling in my necklace, the embroidery of which was finished just in time for the rebirth of the USA, plucked just in time from the brink of disaster.
The pictures were taken at the end of each day using my iPhone and a ring light - the necklace will be completed and ready to view and wear for next weeks post.
I started out with two cabochons - a black agate with a druzy window and an agate druzy coloured with gold vapour that I put together to signify the phoenix with wings on either side. I picked out the bezels in maroon - the little Czech beads are lined with silver, and glow with an inner fire like garnets. I decorated the 'wings' in bright colours, sprinkled with gold and added a few Swarovski crystals surrounded by bright orange bezels. The background was filled in with more maroon. When that was complete, the back was padded and covered with red ultrasuede, and the whole thing edged with yet more maroon, with the addition of a couple of closed jump rings at the 'wing tips' to hang the necklace.
The photographs need to be retaken with my DSLR camera once I decide what the back of the necklace will look like and it will be finished over the weekend.
In my house we are massive fans of Bernie Sanders and I couldn't leave without a picture of him sitting across the street from ours, from the meme that is taking the world by storm! If you wish, you can read how this meme came about.
That's me for this week, folks. Take care and stay safe, and have a fabulous week. I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place.
Hello folks, thanks for joining me again this week. Another cold and drab week has gone by, the highlight of which was Mr. D J Trump making the history books. I'm also pleased to report that I had my first dose of Pfizer vaccine against Covid 19 and had no major ill effects other than a mildly sore arm for 24 hours. Now to wait for my second dose and for others to get it as well so that the world can come out to play again - and near normalcy returns. Until then, we'll just have to lie low and nimbly skip around the edges so that we don't get caught by the dreaded unmentionable.
I found this image on a friends social media - isn't he beautiful? And his jewellery? Swoon! The blurb seems to suggest that the image is an ad from Gaultier. I knew I just had to share him with you.
I had a whole week off, and spent the time delightfully slothful, doing absolutely nothing - sleeping late (nothing new there as I have always suffered from insomnia) but also waking up late, which is rare as I have to be at work by 9 am on normal working days. I played with beads of course, and came up with the beginnings of a new piece.
That's as far as I got this week. The large black agate has a druzy window that shimmers in the light and the flame shaped stone on top is a gold vapour coated piece of druzy. Just now it is still at the fugly stage, but I'm sure that when you come back next Friday, it will be a different story - or at least, I sure hope so.
That's me for this week, folks. Have a lovely week and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place. Stay warm, and stay safe.
Hello folks, how are you today? In the UK we are in yet another lockdown situation which, truth be told should have come a bit earlier, and the USA has turned into a Banana Republic. A hard frost grips the land and it is very cold outside, although not as bad as the temperatures in the Ban.. sorry USA. At least they have ratified a new POTUS now and can begin to heal.
I've had a long week off work, sleeping late every night and lying in every morning. I usually save up a lot of leave till January so that I can make my customary visit to India to see my mother but this year I have plenty of days left that I have to take before the end of the financial year for fear of losing them.
On the first day of the New Year, I received a note from a customer in the USA who is herself a jewellery maker. She dropped in on my stint at The Earrings Show and picked up three pairs of earrings, which took four long anxiety ridden weeks to get to her in South Carolina, due to Covid and Christmas. I was worried that she might complain about the length of time her parcel took to get to her, but no, she was so complimentary that she started my year off with a warm glow!
I guess it goes to show that everyone needs validation and encouragement, and a virtual hug goes a long way towards giving people a sense of value. In turn, I send one out to you, do feel free to pass it on.
I spent the week chilling out in front of the TV making 'fringies'. I also taught myself some new bead embroidery stitches from videos on You Tube - I'm so grateful to the ladies who posted them, as I couldn't have learned these new techniques without help.
Here is an 'alternative' view of the earrings I made this week - once made, I wrapped the fringes with an elastic band, having wet them first. This 'sets' the fringes overnight, so that they drape properly when released.
I have a few more days till I go back in to work, and will most likely start on a new necklace tomorrow. It is hubby's birthday and Leicester theatre has announced an online showing of Sunset boulevard - we're going to dress up and watch it, I only hope the technology works. If you want to join us, and support the theatre at the same time, click on the link - it costs only £20 per home.
That's me for this week folks. Stay warm and safe, and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place. Until then
Hello readers, and Caprilicious Jewellery and I wish you a very happy, virus free New Year in 2021. I can't wait to see the back of 2020 and finally it is done, with all its Brexit hype and traumas and travails of the pandemic. I can only hope that 2021 will be better with the promise of the vaccine and freedom from the virus.
Everyone is looking forward to going back to their regular activities and most of us in the UK are longing for a holiday in warmer climes. My final piece of jewellery for the year unconsciously reflects this as I made a necklace that would be just right for packing away to wear while lounging on the deck of a cruise ship or on a beach, cocktail in hand, scarlet painted toenails peeping from espadrilles and a sunhat on your head, the latest novel in one hand, perusing the male equivalent of the Girl from Ipanema through your reflective sunglasses. Hmm, I like that picture!
The Cruise Necklace
The cruise necklace is a stacked 'neckmess' of three separate pieces which can be worn alone, but look their best when put together. I've used some of my stash of carabiner clasps - the candy striped one in particular is extremely pretty. Acrylic chain links in two vibrant neon colours which can be snapped off to shorten the necklace if required, the bright colours are toned down with howlite and green agate in the other two strands.
Have a wonderful week people, I have a week off work and intend to spend most of it resting up in bed with a good book and Netflix on my i pad, recovering from a hectic few days at Christmas time at the day job. Take care and hold it together, the end is in sight.
Catch you next week, same time, same place.
Hello good people, Merry Christmas to you all. I hope Santa brought you everything you asked for and that you are all safe and well. We are probably going to pay for our one day of fun with a national lockdown in all but name - Tier 4 across the UK, but I'm now past caring. One day at a time, that's all we can do just now.
I'm working this weekend, and it feels like just another day although we're all trying frantically to make it a bit special to bring some cheer into our humdrum lives. No decorations have been allowed in the hospital and the wards look drab and boring. I'm determinedly wearing my Christmas waistcoat - I bring it out every year on the 1st of December, but this year I waited till the 21st - I felt like I would stick out like a sore thumb, whereas previously, I blended in with the decorations.
I spent this week putting together a bunch of earrings for all the ladies working on the unit on Christmas day and put them into individual cellophane wrappers all ready for them to help themselves. It seems little compensation for the awful year we've had and yet more to come. By the time I'd finished I felt as if I'd been working on a conveyor belt system and had made up 35 pairs of earrings and packed them in a satisfying box full of baubles.
I just hope that in the New Year, we get the vaccine on board and it works with all mutations/ new strains or whatever of this virus. That would be the best present ever. I would love to go on holiday/to see my family in India and go to the pub, even if it is only to drink a diet coke or an alcohol free beer, in common I suspect, with the rest of the country/world.
The ad-men seem to be a bit nonplussed this year - what do you say to a country that has been battered by a virus, poor leadership, impending food shortages, Brexit, multiplying food banks and a shower of bankruptcies - spend more money? Not much to go with in such an atmosphere, is there?
I think that's the reason John Lewis are advocating the giving of love and Coca Cola have made such a convoluted ad about very little.
Have as wonderful a Christmas as you can, folks, and I'll catch you next week, same time, same place.
Hello people, how's life treating you? 7 days left to the big day which this year is going to pass us all by with a little sniffle. There's not much point in getting excited about Christmas - although people are still furiously sending out cards and gifts almost as if they are determined to pretend that 2020 isn't the year that God forgot. I'm glad to say that I am working all through the Christmas weekend - misery loves company and I shall have plenty on the day - company, I mean.
The hospital looks bare and forlorn as we are not allowed to put up any decorations - no trees, no tinsel, absolutely nothing that isn't wipe-downable. I'm not sure of the rationale behind this as the corona virus is not likely to lurk in Christmas trees and passing strands of tinsel, but I don't run the place. No doubt SAGE have issued an edict on Christmas trees. We have 3 tree frames picked out in lights on the flat roof, but little else to mark the season.
This week, I was idly flicking through a magazine and chanced upon pictures of large, vintage Chanel Gripoix crosses studded with gemstones - and my next piece was conceived right there. Loads of crystals, Czech and Japanese seed beads, semi precious beads and seed pearls went into the making of this pendant. I decided to go for broke, and embroidered little dangles for each arm of the cross as well as the lower end. Finally, there was space for not another bead.
I've come to realise that the planning of such a piece takes longer than the execution - and once the design has been embroidered, the tedious bit is finishing it by backing with Ultrasuede and edging it with little beads. Not being religious in the least, I was surprised to find myself making a cross at Christmas time - but hey! I go where the muse leads me, who am I to protest?
I've read tales of treasure being found in the deserts of California and Arizona - it is said that for years after the Colorado River flooded in the 1700s, the remains of ships were found in the desert, half buried in salt flats and marshes. These ships were full of Spanish gold - doubloons, jewellery, platters and dishes. The excited travelers who found the treasure would collect as much as they could carry and get on their mules and rush off to tell their friends of the treasure. However, when they got back, the ship had disappeared, buried under the ever moving sand dunes.
In my imagination, this cross comes from just such a treasure and my ship is called Santa Lucia. I can see in my minds eye the wonderful treasure and if pushed can probably even produce a map of where it can be found. I think this pendant is very pretty - I know that many people do not like to wear anything so denominational, but if they could just get over these qualms, they would find themselves wearing a beautiful choker of midnight blue quartz, electroplated to shine brilliantly with titanium vapour and a cross shaped pendant that has been embellished to within an inch of its life.
I have yet to get my Christmas gifts wrapped and labelled - that's a task reserved for this weekend. I shall end here this week, readers. Have a fabulous week, and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place - oh! next Friday is Christmas day, so if I don't catch you, have a lovely day - or at least make the best of it.
Happy Christmas to one and all,
Hello, how are you doing, good people? I am happy to be back here again, and of course, it goes without saying that it's lovely to see you too. Fourteen days to Christmas - where has 2020 gone? My regular annual trip to India has been put on hold unfortunately, although hopefully the vaccine will make some inroad into this situation.
I find myself in that awful place where there are loads of ideas bouncing around in my head, but as yet, there is nothing concrete. My muse has gone into a sulk and I've been left stranded, but my hands still want to play at the end of every working day, they have got used to it. Oh well, I thought, I shall amuse myself by practicing my beadwork, perhaps learning new things, maybe even learn how to read a beading pattern. Following a pattern is my particular bugbear - I've never been able to do this even when I played with knitting as a teenager, and beading patterns seem much more complicated. Recently, I had a friend visit me with a bag full of unfinished projects and she was emphatic that it was all so easy - her work is beautiful, although unfinished. I don't believe in leaving anything unfinished, it would drive me crazy, and I worry that the complexity of working to a pattern will make me produce unfinished projects of my own. I decided that I would try to make three-dimensional geometric shapes. Let me show you some of my efforts - I spent a couple of evenings making these fugly objects, and I cut them up as I went along, as there's no use wasting beads in rubbish that even the bin would shudder at.
I made up a necklace for one of my customers - she bought a pair of earrings a while ago and requested a matching necklace to be made to her design. It took ages to get the necklace made - my suppliers sent me the wrong connectors and we went back and forth trying to get them to understand what was wrong. and then the post took ages to bring the second lot to me. But it is finally made and is winging its way to her as I write.
That's me for this week, folks. Before I go, with Christmas upon us I’m offering you some help with your presents - if you haven’t seen the pop up yet, you can pick up a gift certificate with a 25% discount for a friend- just message me on firstname.lastname@example.org with your friends’ name and email id and I can send out a gift certificate for them to use for the full amount in your name - with lockdown and the inability to travel and poor delivery services we’re experiencing, I think this will make a great gift and with 25% off, you’ll be able to afford that much more as well.
Have a wonderful week and I'll catch you next weekend, same time, same place. I hope Ms. Muse is back from her travels, wherever she is.
Hello folks, nice to find you here again. It's been a busy week for Caprilicious. Last Sunday I was on the Earrings show and seven pairs of earrings found a new home, as well as Surfers Haven. I was so busy at the day job that I wasn't able to post all of them out immediately - the last parcel went out to South Carolina on Thursday. People have obviously been procreating furiously during the lockdown period, we are up to our eyes in babies and consequently, I am exhausted.
I still managed to put my Christmas tree up and decorate it and that was the extent of my creative endeavours this week. However, I did spend some time thinking about what I will make next, so at least next week will be more fulfilling.
Costume jewellery, and women who wear it are of two kinds in my opinion - there are those who don't mind spending a whole load of money on lots and lots of inexpensive but showy, sometimes quite pretty and highly visible jewellery - usually made of plastic beads, acrylic 'gemstones', and base material that falls apart after being worn a few times - however, it looks effective when worn new, is inexpensive and fulfils the requirement for variety. In my experience, when one buys inexpensive goods, one doesn't tend to place any value on them and they get stored all higgledy piggledy in a basket or drawer. When they are next picked up, they may have lost stones, bits might have fallen off and the metal may be tarnished with a strange odour.
And then there are those who would spend their money on a few select, more expensive pieces - handmade, beaded, individualistic, made to last pieces. I include silver jewellery and semi precious stones in this category.
There is, of course the jewellery made of precious stones, gold and other precious metals bought for their resale value, to show the wearers wealth and status - this started in cultures that needed to liquidate their assets on and off, and when banking facilities were either untrustworthy or non existent.
My mother always thought about the 'resale value' of any jewellery she bought, although I've never known her to sell a single piece, ever. I was always told that it was the round diamond that kept its resale value - so when I eventually picked an engagement ring, I chose a rectangular stone as I have no intention of ever selling it.
I thought I'd show you a piece of jewellery from my personal collection and tell you a bit about its history. It came to me from Santa Fe, from an estate sale and I just love it - a vintage Squash Blossom Necklace.
Squash blossom necklaces like the one in the adjacent picture were originally made by the Navajo people, and the name is due to the flared flower silver elements that closely resemble the trumpet shaped flowers of the squash plant. However, it is more likely that they represent pomegranates - the Spanish were thought to have brought this imagery to other parts of the world when they colonised it and the Indians copied the flower from the buttons of the Spanish soldiers' uniforms.
The Squash Blossom is an art form made by many Native and non-Native artists throughout the Southwest and beyond. Metalsmithing came first to the Navajo tribes in the late 1800s when they began to make bridles and other ironmongery for their horses, and eventually came in useful when they began to wear their wealth on their bodies.
The central semilunar or horseshoe shaped pendant is called a Naja and there are so many variations of this pendant. The Naja is a stylised crescent shape that might have been brought to Spain by the Moors, and from there to the Americas.
The crescent shape is a classic Islamic talisman which the Moors used to affix to their horses bridles to ward off the evil eye, and it is thought that the Navajo may have seen it on the Spanish/Mexican army horses and adopted it.
The floral elements in my necklace are made of Turquoise from the Sleeping Beauty Turquoise mines in Arizona. I have talked about this before on the blog - commercially available turquoise beads are mostly dyed howlite.
The Sleeping beauty mines produce turquoise that is a clear robin's egg blue. Turquoise is very important to the Native Indian and has a very mystical and almost sentient quality. It is given as gifts and carried by hunters, warriors and tribesmen for protection, and used in offerings to the rain God and in water divining. The old medicine men of the Navajo prefer turquoise from the Kingman mines that have a matrix, dark markings, and spider webbing which they think brings them closer to the spirits.
The turquoise elements in my necklace are held in hand carved spiky individual settings that resembles embroidery, and are called petit point settings. Zuni Petit point has been made since the early 1900s and is a unique form of turquoise jewellery created by the Zuni Indians. A Petit Point stone is a tiny stone hand cut by a Zuni Indian lapidarist. Petit Point is unique to them and not made anywhere else in the world. The little silver beads in between the turquoise are also handmade and are called Navajo pearls - they are hollow, seamed silver beads made by the Navajo people in multiple sizes, the smaller ones are generally used in Squash Blossom necklaces.
My necklace has Petit Point settings and is reversible - it is set with coral on the back. Let me show you the piece we have been talking about in all its glory.
I hope you've enjoyed a potted history of the Squash Blossom Necklace. Have a fabulous week, and I'll catch you next weekend, same time, same place.
Hello people, how are you? It's cold out there, although still warm for this time of year - I still haven't had to get my winter coat out of the cupboard. 28 days to Christmas and I now have boxes full of my decorations filling a room in my house, delighting Wilfred the cat as he thinks the boxes are a new hidey hole for him, and the baubles are toys to play with.
Lockdown is due to end in a few days time and we are now in Tier 3 - this means Christmas is kinda cancelled as we're only allowed to meet in groups of six in parks and other public open spaces. The only places that will be open will be gyms (Oh joy!) and churches, neither of which I frequent.
Everything is as clear as mud! I had invited a young student up from Bristol to stay with us over her holidays in the festive period, but it isn't about to happen as both Bristol and Warwickshire are in Tier 3 and transport links are bound to be severely disrupted. The situation will be reviewed in two weeks time, but I'll bet that there won't be too much change.
Never mind, I still have my Christmas tree and a few lights and baubles to keep me occupied.
All of last week was spent sewing tiny beads, one at a time onto the latest necklace I started up a couple of weeks ago. I was inspired by a piece of Swarovski 'coral' that was given to me by friend and fellow beader, and a photograph I saw of a huge wave - I tried to recreate the wave in a painterly manner in the true tradition of 'painting with beads'. I decided the Swarovski crystal could be used to represent a piece of driftwood lying on a beach, and even found a couple of crystal starfish in my stash to add a bit of colour and interest.
I spent what was left of the week making up a few earrings from the components I have collected in a little tin box for my last appearance for 2020 at the Earrings Show on Facebook - do drop in if you have a minute between 830 pm on the 28th to 830 pm on the 29th of November. If you haven't the time, all the remaining earrings will be on the website once the show is over.
That's a wrap for this week, folks. Have a great week and take good care of yourselves. I'll catch you next week, same time, same place.
Hello folks, how are you faring this week? I hope you're all safe and well and are keeping your spirits up. Somehow, we have to stumble from one day to the next, masks and visors on, navigating a world full of minefields. My Christmas countdown calendar says 35 days to Christmas - I'm going to put my lights on and decorations up on the first of December, just to get out of this awful drabness that seems to have descended over us like a thick fog.
This week, I've busied myself making custom orders - I very rarely make these but I have a few on my books this month for a couple of regular customers who have designed their own pieces and entrusted the making of them to me. In between times I've started up a new embroidered necklace and thought I'd show you how far I've got with it today. It started with a visit from a friend who 'donated' a few beads from her stash to the Caprilicious effort. One of them was a Swarovski element that was so beautifully packaged it seemed almost a shame to undo the package. I thought the unpacking of it was worth a mention, and a look. The actual element is a beautiful shiny little crystal 'coral' branch, only an inch and a half long, in its own casing.
I said to myself 'This beautiful piece of crystal needs to be used - I cannot allow it to go into my bead stash and disappear, only to find it aeons later.' I'm always anxious that I might run out of design ideas or the ability to execute them - Caprilicious came into my life like a bolt from the blue, having never had any creative impulses before, and I'm consequently a bit worried that this may be just a wonderful dream.
My original thought was that it was a piece of 'coral' but then I decided it would be incorporated into a seascape as a piece of driftwood lying on a beach. I started with the sea - I wanted the look of a rough sea - with waves that would be worthy of a surfer, which could have spat a piece of driftwood onto the shore.
A lot of people would have cut out the spaces between the waves after the beads were added, but I worried that the threads might accidentally be snipped through - and that would have disastrous consequences that don't bear thinking about! The piece therefore had to be designed and a drawing made before I put it together - and that took me the best part of the week - I've been brave and included the drawing made on the back of a packet of Weetabix, and cut out so that I could hold it around my neck to check out the fit. Obviously, all the backing material and Ultrasuede will have to be cut out to fit and I've made life a bit more complicated for myself than I'd like, but I think the negative space will enhance the look of the piece - a low cut blouse allowing a flash of skin would be really effective - what do you think?
A couple of pairs of earrings for my final Earrings Show appearance came off my workspace while I was mulling over the design for my surfers beach necklace. One of them has some of my favourite diamante elements and the other, rustic ceramic spikes in black and gold, with stripy agate beads softened by twisted wire ruffles and coral.
That's me for this week, folks. Take good care of yourselves and stay safe - just a while longer until they bring us the all singing, all dancing vaccine that will save us all from the dreaded C word and give us our life back again - hopefully!
Have a great week, and I'll catch you again next Friday, same time, same place.